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Rationale for the introduction of the 17-point marking scale

In July 2008 the Senate approved a new 17-point marking scale, which applies to students who joined Warwick from autumn 2008 onwards. 

The scale uses seventeen identified grade points which map on to fixed percentages on the 0-100% scale.  The aim is to facilitate greater convergence in the use of mark scales across different Faculties, by encouraging use of the full range of marks.  This should help to ensure equitable treatment of students of similar abilities and achievements across the University, which is particularly important for inter and multi-disciplinary courses. 

Any new marking scale had to be designed to allow excellence to be rewarded appropriately.  Although we notionally used a 0-100 scale in the past, in practice some disciplines awarded almost all assessed work marks within a range of (approximately) 35-75.  This contributed to relatively low numbers of First-Class degrees being awarded in some subjects: where a First Class piece of work was given a mark in the low 70s, regardless of where in the First Class range the work lay, the average mark was depressed, which led to marks tending to cluster around the mean.  The advantage of using identified points across the whole 0-100 scale is that the difference between work which is a low First, a mid First and an exceptionally strong (high or excellent) First is stretched.  This avoids depressing the mean, and allows excellence to be rewarded.  Similarly, stretching the scale in the Fail range means that incompetence is treated more harshly compared with current practice.



For more details, see the Senate paper (PDF Document)